Aldon Eases Compliance, Project Management Burdens with Reporting Tool
October 6, 2009 Dan Burger
Whether you are being overwhelmed by compliance regulations and the costs of tweaking IT systems to accommodate audits or are concerned about projects that lack the type of management controls to keep them on time and under budget, Aldon‘s just-released report management solution is worthy of a closer look. Viewing and tracking application development is browser based and includes the capability to drill down for specific details.
If you know what it’s like to depend solely on the green-screen views of the IBM AS/400 (iSeries, System i, and IBM i) to attain information on the application development process, the thought of “there must be a better way” has likely occurred to you. Queries are complex and time consuming even with sophisticated filters, reporting engines, and the capability to ultimately present them in spreadsheets.
Aldon Report Manager not only simplifies this reporting, but it presents the information in a browser that is much more convenient for picky end users such as auditors and managers–people who are not necessarily on friendly terms with the green screens.
Aldon Report Manager is a new–just released today–module for the Aldon Lifecycle Management (ALM) system. ALM is a suite of products that provide process automation, management capabilities, software configuration and change management, and distribution and release management in multi-platform environments.
For those who worry about how this upsets the applecart that has been loaded with familiar procedures before a new product arrives, there’s no cause for sleepless nights.
“We haven’t eliminated any of the things that companies have done in the past,” says Modi Ronen, director of solutions engineering at Aldon. “We haven’t touched anything on our core repository database. We created a Web interface application that looks like a Web 2.0-type of application that allows people who are not green-screen friendly to browse the data they are interested in. It should appeal to managers and executives who have to manage green-screen apps or databases, but who are not exactly happy with the 5250 screens.”
A major benefit that comes with Report Manager is that it can merge data that is extremely difficult to do with green screens. It provides some sophisticated views on top of the data to allow unique overviews of application releases.
Compliance regulations and best practice methodologies require careful tracking of change requests, maintenance updates, releases, and deployments by establishing a clear audit trail.
“This will be a strategic tool when there are audits,” Ronen says. “A lot of times, the people familiar with green screens are not the ones facing the auditors. To be able to show an auditor a Web interface on any application and to get the information they need and then export it a spreadsheet or a PDF is powerful.
“For instance, verified reports–showing whether the repository and the target environments are in sync with the correct versions–show up on the summary screen, which is a streamlined process,” Ronen says. In other words, it provides the proof that procedures are 100 percent accurate or that there are problems that need to be addressed. Consistent reporting keeps managers on top of problems and clean reports can help satisfy auditing demands.
When changes need to be made in the production environment, outside the regular process, because of broken code patches need to be made on an emergency basis. Handling emergency check-outs–what processes were followed, who handled those processes, and how many emergencies have been handled–are examples of what auditors may be examining.
On the business side, managers could use this tool to define project budgets and how many hours are being used in every task. This is not necessarily new data that wasn’t available before, but it makes the tracking of multiple projects much easier much less time consuming because reporting has become much simpler than most anyone has it with a green-screen system. This type of reporting goes a long way in making project management presentations that pinpoint on-time and on-budget items or such things as understaffing issues or project deadline modifications.
Report Manager offers pre-packaged templates to define tasks, activities, and releases, but was also designed so users can create customized queries to meet needs such as discovering trends, measuring performance, and identifying issues and exceptions.
Pricing for Aldon Report Manager was not available at the time of this report, but it will be based on server size and licensed as a separate module of Aldon’s Lifecycle Management suite. For more product info, check out Aldon’s Web site at www.aldon.com.